Good as Cash

The unlikely story of the greatest Texas athlete you've never heard of

"As far as I'm concerned, it was a stroke of genius for Corey [Johnsen, the track's president] to ask Cash to get involved," says Breeders' Cup President D.G. Van Clief Jr. "He's the perfect ambassador. He has such a name and reputation. If you know Cash, you know he presents himself well. People like him."

The cup races face "a bit of a challenge" recruiting European runners, Van Clief says. "They haven't been here. They're gonna perceive Texas as a warm-weather climate, which scares them a little bit. We've got a missionary job to do, and he's a perfect guy to do it."

Even without being paid, as he is now, Asmussen has long touted horse racing as a world sport and the Breeders' Cup as its Super Bowl. "The Breeders' Cup has brought international racing to another public," he says. "For the Europeans, they've put enough money in that it makes it worth their while to risk traveling their horses and playing on a field that is not their home."

Asmussen "breezes" a horse on a fast training run at El Primero. "I couldn't tell you I wouldn't want to own and race a champion in France," he says during a break in the day's work.
Mark Graham
Asmussen "breezes" a horse on a fast training run at El Primero. "I couldn't tell you I wouldn't want to own and race a champion in France," he says during a break in the day's work.
Shorthand: Asmussen has long used the dollar sign as his signature. The brashness of it drove the Brits nuts.
Mark Graham
Shorthand: Asmussen has long used the dollar sign as his signature. The brashness of it drove the Brits nuts.

Questions he gets in his new role are mostly technical--things such as track conditions, probable weather and quarantine facilities--not cultural, he says. There isn't much to explain about the United States or Texas to this crowd. "People who have a stable of horses that might have one or two or three capable of competing in the Breeders' Cup are people of the world," he says.

It's a club Cash wouldn't mind joining.

"I couldn't tell you I wouldn't want to own and race a champion in France after having won most of the major races in that country. That would be something," he says. "What better life than to get to go to France, one of the nicest countries in the world, and be paid to be there. It's nice to go back and visit now, but it's not the same. There's no challenge. Nothing I have my teeth sunk into."

That's typical Cash, his brother Steve says fondly. His goals always have something to do with world domination. "You do it one horse at a time," Steve says. "We definitely haven't topped off yet."

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